South Brunswick schools in New Jersey closed next week for Hindu festival Diwali

Hindus have applauded South Brunswick School District (New Jersey, USA) for declaring Diwali as a school holiday, calling it “a step in the right direction”.
According to 2011-2012 school calendar, District schools will stay closed on October 26 for Diwali/Deepavali. Only other religious closing days mentioned on 2011-12 calendar are Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah (September 29 & 30).
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that all school districts in New Jersey, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states, should declare Diwali as school holiday.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the South Brunswick School District pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make District look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community.
Rajan Zed further said that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that.
According to Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival.
About 9,100 students are enrolled in 12 schools of the District, located between New York City and Philadelphia, which was ranked by New Jersey Education Department as “High Performing School District”. It claims to be “one of the finest public school systems in New Jersey”. Dr. Stephen F. Parker is President of the District Board, while Dr. Gary P. McCartney is Superintendent of District, whose tagline is “Building Tomorrow, Today”.
About 11 percent population of South Brunswick is of India-descent. New Jersey is most densely populated and second wealthiest state in the country and Indian languages Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., are spoken in its various parts.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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